Cause of decade's stagnation of plant communities through16-years successional trajectory toward fens at a created wetland in northern Japan.
Hiraoka is the created wetland that was constructed in 2000 in an urban park in Sapporo City. We introduced fen and bog plants and monitored the hydrochemical conditions and species assemblage composition four times during the 16 years after construction (YAC). The species richness indices of total, exotics, and annuals resembled those of the target fens within 11 YAC, but the species assemblages did not match the target fens even after 16 YAC, showing that species richness is a less effective way to measure success. The 0.1 m high artificial hummocks enhanced species richness 1.3 to 1.4 times more than the surrounding hollows and increased variety within species assemblages (although these hummocks collapsed before16 YAC). Water level from ground surface (WL) were stable at around 0.00 to +0.05 m, except during several-days floods, when a maximum WL of +0.4 to +0.5 m. Hydrological conditions were, therefore, similar to those natural fens nearby. Mean pH values (min and max) decreased from 6.9 (5.5-9.3) in 1 YAC to 6.2 (5.7-6.9) in 16 YAC and approached those of natural fens. The mean electrical conductivity (166-196 μS cm-1) and concentrations of major minerals (Ca2+, Mg2+, and K+) were consistently higher than those of Japanese fens, but dissolved phosphorus (0.00-0.04 mg l-1) and nitrogen (0.12-0.48 mg l-1) were lower. The trajectory of species assemblages quickly approached the target fen at least 5 YAC, but then changed between 5 and 11 YAC, before stagnating. Since mineral content in Hiraoka was near the lower limit of calcareous rich-fens, abundant minerals would be less effective in changing the species assemblage compositions. Due to the dominance of eight initially introduced fen species, the trajectory turned in a different direction. Species assemblages stagnated between initial and target communities before 16 YAC, since the five fen dominants introduced at 8 to 9 YAC had not yet dominated. Accordingly, initial introductions, including species combinations of target fen, can shorten the time required to achieve natural fens. At 16 YAC, large emerged macrophytes did not dominate and did not competitively exclude fen species, probably because the water was oligotrophic and the wetland design did not include open water.